Textile circularity

Showcasing projects at the forefront of fashion's future - a circular economy with sustainable collaboration, recycling technologies and recyclable designs for a greener world. Curated by Professor Kirsi Niinimäki.
New Cotton with Infinited Fibre Company
New Cotton Project. Photo: Infinited Fibre Company

Textile Circularity 

A circular economy will be the new normal in the fashion and textile sector in the near future. It will change the way we design, manufacture and consume textiles and garments. It will also change the logic of business, with responsibility for products extending to cover even the end of life stage. Products need to be taken back and placed in the effective materials recycling system, making old textiles a valuable raw material for fibre production. This change needs new knowledge, new technologies, new partnering and industrial ecosystems. This exhibition presents three cases/projects that focus on textile recycling using latest technological innovations and new design strategies to build ecosystems for textile circularity. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Collaboration is key for sustainability success.  
  • New ecosystem, new networks need to be built to enable textile circulation, including textile waste collectors. 
  • Product design needs to lean on new knowledge; products need to be recyclable at the end of their life.  
  • All products will include recycled materials in the future.  
New Cotton Project at Fashion for Good Museum. Photography Alina Krasieva
New Cotton Project at Fashion for Good Museum. Photo: Alina Krasieva

New Cotton

Design for recycling 

In the New Cotton project, twelve stakeholders are coming together to break new ground by demonstrating an entirely circular model for commercial garment production. The focus is on human-made cellulosic fiber that looks and feels like cotton – a “new cotton” – using Infinited Fiber Company’s textile fiber regeneration technology. The project aims to study what happens when lab-scale innovation is scaled up to industrial reality. It also acts as an inspiration and stepping stone for further, even bigger circular initiatives as, going forward, circular economy practices are realized in industry.

Learn more about the  New Cotton Project

T-Rex Project
T-REX Project.


System for textile recycling 

The T-REX Project (Textile Recycling Excellence) is working toward creating a harmonised EU blueprint for closed-loop sorting and recycling of household textile waste. End-of-use textiles will be transformed from waste into a desired feedstock and commodity for new business models that can be adopted at scale. The project works toward developing a systematic approach to the problem of textile waste, resource preservation and reduction of the environmental footprint of the fashion industry. 

The project is focused on the recycling process of polyester, polyamide 6, and cellulosic materials from textile waste into new garments. Simultaneously, the project will conduct lifecycle analysis of the circular process, integrate digital tools that streamline the process of closed-loop textile recycling, and produce circular design guidelines.

Learn more about the T-REX project 

Ioncell's conversion of old books into new textile fibres. Photo: Anne Kinnunen


Conversion of old books into new textile fibres via dry-jet wet spinning 

In the course of the FINIX project, paper waste is turned into new textile fibres by means of Ioncell® technology.  

Discarded books have been collected by Pääkaupunkiseudun Kierrätyskeskus Oy (Reuse Centre) and provided for recycling purposes. The books are ground, pre-treated, dissolved in an ionic liquid and chemically recycled via a lyocell type dry-jet wet spinning technique. The produced fibres are tested and analysed in detail. The achieved results are compared with the properties of commercial fibres. 

The yarn developed, in both treated and untreated qualities, is then used to create a new, unisex knitted garment prototype, with future functionality and versatility at the core of the design.    

Ioncell®, developed by Aalto University in cooperation with the University of Helsinki, is an emerging technique to produce cellulosic fibres of high quality for textile and technical applications. Ioncell® fibres are soft to touch, strong even when wet, moisture absorbing, biodegradable, bright and can be dyed like cotton or viscose. 

Working towards circularity in textiles - Webinar

28th September, 13:15-14:45 EET (12:15-13:45 CET)

Register here


13:15-13:20 Introduction /Kirsi Niinimäki, Aalto University

13:20-13:40 Dolly Vellanki, Innovation Associate, Fashion For Good

13:40-14:00 Josse Kunst, Chief Commercial Officer, CuRe Technology

14:00-14:20 Paula Sarsama, Program Manager, Infinited Fiber Company

14:20-14:45 Q&A with all speakers


Dolly Vellanki will share lessons learned from the Sorting for Circularity project series and give insight into regulation and policy around sorting and recycling of textiles.

Josse Kunst will talk about the current state of the chemical recycling of synthetic fibres, focusing on polyester and polyamide.

Paula Sarsama will discuss the developments in the chemical recycling of cotton.

Learn more about the Webinar


Kirsi Niinimäki

Wood crystals on a black fabric.

Designs for a Cooler Planet

The festival returns to Otaniemi this fall, 6 Sept – 3 Oct 2024, revealing how we can change the world.

Colour photo of rolls of off-white fabric. Photo by Ethan Bodnar

Working Towards Circularity in Textiles | Webinar (external link)

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for textiles and circular practices?

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Department of Design

The Department of Design is a diverse community of competent, creative and responsible individuals. In design, we appreciate technical skill, social significance and artistic expression.

Image: Aalto University, AaltoTEXTILES network

AaltoTEXTILES network (external link)

AaltoTEXTILES is a network linking all textile-material related activities within design, technology and business at Aalto University

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